Blugolds look good in WIAC championship

Story by Breann Schossow

The UW-Eau Claire gymnastics team could potentially send seven athletes to the National Collegiate Gymnastics Conference at the end of the month depending on host Springfield College’s (Mass.) performance this weekend.

Coach Jean DeLisle said four Blugolds have already qualified to compete at NCGA in a few weeks – junior Sarah Hulbert and freshmen Danielle Schulzetenberg, Cece Solem and RachelAnn Anderson. Last year, DeLisle added, only two team members qualified.

However, if Springfield College (Mass.) earns one of the top three places at its event on Saturday, more spots will open up, allowing senior Samantha Howard and freshmen Rachel Behmer and Molly Senske to join their teammates.

“Saturday is going to be a big day, and we’re going to be watching them close,” DeLisle said. In addition to the three women, some of the Blugolds will qualify for additional events.

Schulzetenberg, who is the only ‘Gold to qualify for nationals in the all-around competition, said she’s looking forward to nationals and hopes that all seven team members are able to go.

“I’m excited . to represent UWEC,” she said.

While the Blugolds didn’t qualify as a team for NCGA this weekend at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference championship, they did earn a season-high overall score of 180.325, four points above their previous high score. First-place UW-Whitewater triumphed with their first WIAC conference win with 185.475 points to move ahead of UW-La Crosse in the WIAC. The Eagles previously held the title for 13 consecutive years.

DeLisle said the Blugolds went into Sunday’s meet very excited, determined and nervous.

“We have a pretty young team so some of those nerves were running pretty high,” she said. “The atmosphere is a lot different than your . average meet.”

Overall, DeLisle said the team generally hit all the events, specifically excelling at the vault and floor exercises.

Hulbert agreed that the team went into the championships with confidence, especially after winning

“We felt good,” she said. “We had a good week of practice before.”

Over the season, Hulbert thinks the most improved event for the team was bars, with vault and floor being its strongest events.

“I feel like we stayed pretty solid . on those events,” she said.

DeLisle described this season’s gymnastics team as an amazing group of athletes.

Citing the upperclassman leadership and strength of the freshmen as highlights, she said, “I have never coached a team quite like this.”